tv Charlie Rose WHUT August 5, 2009 9:00am-10:00am EDT
>> rose: welcome to the broadcast. we begin with the dramatic story that former president clinton has gone to north korea, met with kim jong il and secured the release of two american journalists. we talk to joe cirincione and glen kessler. >> this was a high risk but potentially high-reward move on the part of two power players. one, of course, is president obama but the other is president bill clinton. there isn't another piece on the board that president obama could have deployed that matched the power and just attention grabbing of bill clinton it, of course, is about essentially the security and release of those two journalists but as green says it's potentially much more. >> most north korean experts would say this is part of the kind of play book north korea likes to do. you ratchet up the tensions, you find a face-saving way out. the real test will be how does
the obama administration take advantage of this potential opportunity. and whether or not north korea is willing to engage in a substantive way that will actually lead to real progress. >> rose: and then the case of a "newsweek" reporter journalist who lives in iran and was covering the iranian elections when he was detained on june 21. he's still in prison and we'll talk about that with "newsweek's" editor john meacham spl >> what's so disappointing is we for six weeks have respectfully ask that he... that iranian law be followed. they are not following their own due process. the other thing that's unfortunate is iran clearly wants to be part of the family of nations they want to be taken seriously. they want to be part of the world community. but this is not the way one acts
if one wants to do that. >> rose: we conclude with part one of a two part conversation with general tony zinni, a distinguished marine who served in the military all of his life with observations about america's role with america's role in the world, especially middle east. >> i've heard both sides, arab and israeli, only you could do it, put it on the table, i'm convinced that for it to be a comprehensive sustainable plan they have to work it out, put it on the table we should not be in the plan of putting it on the table. >>. >> rose: the head of kessler motors was scheduled to tell us about his electric car, that interview will take place later. to want, president clinton in north korea, john meacham and general tony zinni when we continue.
journalists with parr were pardoned following an apology in a meter with kim jong il earlier today. the mission comes at a time of heightened tensions between washington and north korea over its nuclear program. as we tape this broadcast at 7:00 p.m., the white house has not commented on the release of the journalists. joining me from washington is glen kessler, diplomatic correspondent for the "washington post" and joe cirincione, president of the plow shares fund, i am pleased to have them both on this program, welcome. >> pleasure to be with you. >> thank you. >> rose: i want you both to tell me everything you know about what happened. (laughter) >> what we know is that this was a carefully arranged agreement put together by the white house, the state department and various other back channel people, academics, congressional officials and so forth. the deal was set before the
former president left the united states to go to pyongyaya. it was a kind of mission of respect to the north korean leader, he wanted the images of a former president there at his side and the agreement was that he would pick up... the esident would pick up those journalists and take them back home, they would be pardoned and that would end this irritant in u.s./north korean relations and would potentially allow the two sides to move forward now with talks that might lead to progress on their nuclear programs. >> what i would add to that was this was a high risk but potentially high-reward move on the part of two power ayers. one, of course, is president obama but the other is president bill clinton. there isn't another piece on the board that president obama could have deployed that matched the power and just attention grabbing of bill clinton.
it, of course, is about the security and release of those two journalists but as glenn says, it's potentially much more. for north korea all things american are connected. and this could lead to the restoration of direct bilateral talks between the united states and north korea. potentially north korea freezing its nuclear program again, coming back to the space walks and the process of... six party talks and the denuclearization of north korea. there's a lot of pieces now in play. who got it done? you mentioned the president and kim jong il. who got it done? >> well, i'd be interested in your view... glenn, go ahead. >> well, i was just going to say that i think there were a number of players here. obviously the white house decided they would make this move and picking bill clinton is an interesting choice because, as you may recall, president clinton nearly went to pyongyang at the end of 2002.
he decided not to do it in part because the israeli/palestinian talks were going off the rails and so it kind of fills in the missing piece. it kind of closes that circle that from north korea's perspective much of the bush administration years were kind of a lost opportunity for them and it closes that circle and maybe can make them feel b bter about themselves. >> joe, you think that's possible? that, as you just said, that something good could come out of this now that this ice has been broken? >> oh, yes, i do. whether by design or by accident the obama administration has played the north korean situation just about perfectly. for the first eight months of the administration, they largely ignored north korea. i and others were arguing for negotiations earlier for this kind of move earlier. whether it was policy drift or arguments within the administration, they didn't do that. as a result north korea issued a lot of provocative statements, took some provocative actions in
terms of tests, etc., got them nowhere. the north korean government is now more isolated than ever. it's been deserted by its major partners, including china who secretary of state clinton praised just last week for the role they're playing as well as russia and their neighbors. in this w wkened position, in this weakened transition period where the leaderr is dying and looking to solidify his role, possibly pass it on to his son, they made their power play, when north korean behavior moderated, when north korea hasn't done anything particularly pro havingive the in the last couple months they move in this piece to ask to put them in this box, they open up a door and show them the way out, show them the benefits of cooperation, dialogue, and negotiation. this could set the pattern if the obama administration now follows it up for another broad set of negotiations, refreezing of the nuclear program and a denuclearization of north korea. >> rose: two questions... go ahead, glenn. >> i was just going to say yes,
it's also kind of interesting how... and this gets to the high stakes of this maneuver. the white house and the state department have been completely silent about this. and, in fact, have always... kind of said, well, it's the former president on his own human turn a mission even though behind the scenes they helped arrange all of this. and hillary clinton-- of course president clinton's spouse-- made certain statements kind of ratcheted down some of the rhetoric, talked about the mistakes that these reporters had made and kind of opened the door for a diplomatic solution and yet at the moment neither the state department or the white house wants to say they had anything to do with it. >> rose: she had, in fact, asked the government of north korea to give amnesty to these two women, hadn't she? >> right. and she said that after she also said that they had made a grave mistake which was the kind of apology or admission that north korea was looking for. >> rose: and they had expressed great remorse for entering the country the way they did. >> yes, they did.
they did that in a phone call back to the united states. >> so you can see without making any concessions on the part of the united states at all they found a face-saving way for north korea to back down. and that is the art of diplomacy finding a way for the other side to do what you want them to do. >> rose: okay. i just have this question, joe. was that idea of using clinton-- the former president-- the north korean's idea or the obama administration's idea? >> well, here's what i know about and gln may know more. i was involved in various grain storming sessions in the earlier part of the administration n ere we floated the idea of a high-level envoy. bill richardson was suggested. al gore was suggested. after all, the journalists worked for him. no one that i know in these public brainstorming sessions or semi public suggested bill clinton. that... i understand that the north koreans themselves raised this idea and the obama administration seemed to agree with it. the other possibility was former
president george h.w. bush, but clinton was deemed to be closer to the obama administration, a more appropriate figure. >> rose: there's also... go ahead, glenn. >> my understanding is that gore was kind of the choice the administration offered. north korea didn't want gore, they wanted someone else like clinton and it's not that it's any kind of disrespect of gore will, but becauseore was so closely associated with these two journalists, they worked for a ty program that he co-founded that perhaps the north koreans viewed him less as a representative of the united states and more of a representative of a company and therefore they preferred someone like president clinton. >> rose: it clearly--... from what you have said, kim jong il was looking for a way out of this. this had become bigger and more of a problem than it had anything else, correct? >> i think that's true. and... go ahead, glenn.
>> i agree. i would agree with that. that... >> but i also think he's looking for something... a way out of more than just this journalist situation. he's looking for a way out of this standoff with the united states, the most powerful country in the world, and a country in that north korea wants to be its protector, to protect it from what it sees as hostile states all around it, countries that have invaded north korea over the centuries. and the way he was trying to sort of get that didn't work: testinging nuclear weapons, testing mimiile, provocative statements. none of that behavior was rewarded. this behavior-- cooperation, agreement, negotiation-- this is where he gets rewarded. >> rose: i assume also you could say that the obama administration diplomatically is on the madge around the world and they want to be part of that. >> i think that's exactly right. >> yeah. i'm maybe a bit more of a skeptic on that than joe is. i mean, we'll see. most north korean experts would say that this is part of the kind of play book that north
korea likes to do. it likes to ratchet up the tensions, you find a face-saving way out. the real test will be how does the obama administration take advantage of this potential opportunity? and whether or not north korea is willing to engage in a substantive way that will actually lead to real progress. i mean, this administration has said they're not going to pay twice for the same agreements that were made before and we see... i'm sure the north koreans are master at this, whether or not they can extract something ahead of time in exchange for the same things they've given before. >> rose: was it guaranteed that the former president would see kim jong il? was that part of the package? was that important to both sides? >> i think it was important to north korea. i don't know how important it was to thehenited states. >> i was just going to say. it's also interesting who accompanied president clinton. he was accompanied by john
podesta who was former white house chief of staff and also the transition director for president obama. he was accompanied by a former high-ranking state department official who is a specialist in korean affairs. no government offffials-- current government officials-- but a pretty good, powerful team of people who are experienced in north korea and would be good observers of kim jong il and how he's acting. >> rose: is it also true that the former president was met by oh high-level officials, the chief nuclear negotiator and the vice parliamentary speaker? that he got some kind of state dinner? that they really treated this as a big-time visit beyond the release of these two people? >> yes, clearly. >> yes, that is true. and nuclear experts that i've talked to have identified the people who greeted him at the airport as the nuclear negotiators. so yearly from the very beginning, from the minutes president clinton walks off the
plane the north koreans are making the connection between this visit and their nuclear program. >> rose: what's the next step? >> well, the next step is we're going to have a press stampede tomorrow at the los angeles airport when that plane touches down. this is an irresistible story. on the bigger picture, the policy picture, now we'll get more information from the obama administration which maybe will then reveal that, in fact, it was aware of this visit and did koort nate with it. now the key question is how does obama follow up? does he take a small step? is it a small gesture or does he have the courage to follow through on the this kind of power play with a big move back to let north korea know here's what the cards are on the table, here's what an arrangement could look like with us, if you freeze and start reversing your nuclear program, here's what we're prepared to do and this time don't mess it up by shortchanging them on fuel oil deliveries or putting sanctions on at the same time that you're trying to negotiate with them. it's all there for the taking.
it's been there for the last ten years. we just haven't been able to seal the deal with them. >> right. i would... on a small scale i would expect there would be a meeting between the special envoy for north korea, steven boss worth, and, you know, a north korean counterpart. you have a bilateral meeting which is... you know, the administration would say, oh, it's all in the context of a multilateral negotiating round but if you have a bilateral meeting that would be something that would be pleasing to the north koreans and it would be a way to draw them back into negotiations. >> rose: and you see for us it's really small change whether we have a meeting with them directly or not. there's nothing that we are really giving up here, but all this means a lot to the north koreans and we can get a lot from them, including the ending of their program, the ending of exports, no more aid to countries like syria or maybe burma on their programs. we have a huge amount to gain and very little that we have to
give up. >> i think i read in the "l.a. times" that the former president was eager to do this when asked. >> knowing bill clinton, i would expect him to be eager. it would be a way to help out his wife, help out this administration, and show that he's a player. >> rose: it's also the notion that when the transition was taking place and she was under consideration, the question came up, well, what will the president do with the former president? clearly they found a very good thing to do with him. >> rose: you know, there is a certain irony here, of course, in that 15 years ago almost to this month bill clinton turned to another former president-- jimmy carter-- who met with another north korean leader who was just weeks away from dying, kim ill song, and that helped create the spark that led to an agreement that froze north korea's nuclear program through a number of years.
now, that former president, jimmy carter, was considered by the then clinton administration to have gone a little bit off the reservation and so far you could see that this former president appearance to have played the script perfectly. >> as glenn pointed out, madeleine albright was the last high-ranking official to visit north korea and bill clinton considered going and didn't. he left office and handed this off to the bush administration expecting them to clinch the deal. remember, north korea was not producing plutonium, not testing missiles, the baigs had a different view, like vice president dick cheney said "we don't negotiate with evil, we defeat it, with overthrow their regime." that strategy backfired, north korea made more progress in the last eight years than they did under reagan and clinton combined testing weapons, testing missiles, now this is a chance for bill clinton to go back and say "see, my policy worked, let me show you how to do this." >> rose: thank you both. it's an extraordinary story. >> you're welcome.
>> our plesh yush. >> rose: we'll be right back. stay with us. >> rose: iran has detained several journalists since the iran election, 40 of them are still in prison, among them is maziar bahari, he was with "newsweek" magazine in iran. he was detained on june 21 and was brought before a mass trial last saturday. he has not had access to a lawyer or had formal charges issued against him. bahari, a native'reian, has worked for "newsweek" in tehran since 1998. he's been living there with his elderly mother. he's also made several documentary films andd is a playwright. joining me now john meacham, the editor of "newsweek" magazine, and i'm pleased to have him on this broadcast to talk about this case and what is taking place. welcome. >> thank you, sir. >> rose: how did we get here? why was he arrested? what do you know about this? and what is taking place in order to get him out? >> well, as you say, the 21st of
june, so nine days after the election, he was picked up, taken to prison, had not been granted access to a lawyer, as you said, no formal charges, given the... what we believe to be forced confession over thehe weekend where he said that the western media was, in fact, try to foment a revolution in iran, a statement that came in a forced press conference after six weeks of captivity, six weeks. >> rose: and no contact with the outside world in any way. no lawyers? >> no lawyers, four calls home to his mother on whom he's the sole support. he and his bride are also expecting a child in november. so the personal surround on this is particularly painful. he had covered the election, had covered iran for a long time,
quite fairly. there was no complaint whatever beforehand. there's not... it's not as though this is a record of a dissident who, in the emotion of the election they said "let's round up the people who have been agitating." he was being a journalist. he was being a documentarian. he was being a witness to history as it unfolded. >> rose: and he had all the credentials knows do that. >> everything. everything. and fully credentialed, fully in so far as one is recognized by the regime. so our sense is-- and who knows if we will ever know exactly why-- is as the regime tried to offer some explanation, tried to craft a narrative for the protests and the reaction to the supreme leader's early announcement of a landslide for
ahmadinejad, who will be sworn in on monday to his second four-year term, they decided that maziar bahari apparently was someone that they could fit into a narrative. a representative of a western institution. someone who had taken video, had done video reporting. so in so far as one can discern motives, you can see from the regime's point of view how you would do that if you were looking at in the that cracked kind of way. what's so disappointing is we for six weeks have respectfully asked that he... that iranian law be followed. they are not following their own due process. the other thing that's unfortunate is iran clearly wants to be part of the family of nations. they want to be taken seriously. they want to be part of the
world community. but this is not the way one acts if one wants to do that. >> rose: so that means two questions. one, what's the evidence they want to be part of the world community? and, secondly, why are they acting this way? i mean, do they comprehend that it is, in fact, injurious to their reputation? and to the word community? and, b, does not further their dmauz that effort at all? >> it doesn't. and i think these are the wages of totalitarianism. you have a theocracy, you have a government, a regime, that is fearful for its survival. when regimes are fearful they tend to overreact. history tells us that again and again and again. and i think most of the signals we get is that the country does not want to be like north korea.
i think it wants to be an outliar. it has ambitions to be a power, but to be that power, to be part of the world, you need to play by not onlyor people's rules, not only pier people's rules but you have to play by their own rules. and their due process has been violated here. n maziar bahari's case. >> rose: a couple points of what you have written and the what you're doing and how you think anybody can help make the case. you're saying in the magazine that they would like to play bahari as a kind of subversive or even as a spy. he's neither, a journalist, a man doing his job fairly and judiciously. when he was arrested. he is an agent only of the trust as best he can see it and his body of work proves him to be a fair minded observer who eschews ideological cant for a wider
world view and persuasively, for instance, that iran's nuclear program is an issue of national pride not just the leadership's obsession. you also say his case is an opportunity for the government of iran to show that is a well-intentioned member of fapl a family of nations, a country to be taken seriously on its open terms. it's an opportunity, we respectfully submit, that should not be missed. how do you get your of on behalf of a valuable employee to a government that is casting a wide net to bring people in out of its attitude towards the protest in the streets and it's indiscriminate and who is caught in the net. >> well, we talk to you. is we talk about hit in the magazine. we talk about it at "newsweek".com and i would ask... jump to the last part of that. if people would like to sign a petition calling for his release news week.com is the place to
go. our friends at reporters without borders and the community proprotect journalists have been very helpful. what the message has to be, it seems to me, is that there is no charge. in so far as we have heard in his voice from this show press conference which followed the show trial this weekend.... >> rose: is that why you're speaking out today, fwufz trial over the week en, the show trial? >> yes. >> rose: all right. >> and the fact that he... not looking hale and hearty by any means. he was only... only four calls to his mother, no access to a lawyer he was brought out and said that the western media was trying to do this. well, what the western media, at least in our case, was trying to do was tell the truth about the country in its complexity. in fact, the issue of the magazine right before the election was quite
counterintuitive and a lot of it was maziar bahari's about how the caricature of iran as part of the axis of evil-- to use president bush's phrase-- is simply... doesn't hold up. and so i think in its struggle to control something that was beginning to feel uncontrollable the regime decided that it needed to construct a narrative to compete with the narrative of the protests in favor of a more open process. and that narrative required pointing out to the west, to subversives, to outside pressures trying to topple the legitimate regime. that's the narrative that's been developed in this show trial, the reformists, the outsiders have agitated against the true will of the iranian people. that's what the regime would like people to believe. we have world enough in time to
decide and figure out what the fate of iran if the modern world should be. maziar bahari should not be a pawn in a regime's struggle to control its own people. >> rose: what is to be learned if what happened in north korea? >> well, that's a very good point. these things are interestingly intersecting. i think one hopes that there is a similar result. that there is a release, there is a happy conclusion, a pardon. when you are dealing with a totalitarian regime, you are dealing with... by necessity you're dealing with something that works on whim more than it works according to logic. and even when it works according to logic, often it's its own perverse kind.
so one would hope that a lesson that the folks in tehran might learn from this is that holding journalists... again, holding... in particular holding someone whose canon of work is out there and which is not... does not fit in to any reasonable narrative of this man is an agitator, it's just not true. >> rose: here's what i'm... you can't communicate, you can only talk to his mother. >> yeah. >> it's very hard. the man is in a prison and the lawyer goes there and can't talk to him. so we are in a... i hesitate to use this, because it's cliche, but it's an orwellian situation where, you know, you have someone who was doing his job for a western media organization who's being asked, told, coerced
probably into saying that the western media was covering a story. well, yeah, was maziar bahari working with the western media covering the protests that ensuing from the election? absolutely. if you make that a crime, then you're in a kind of "through the looking glass" world where everything is reversed. and our hope is that his due process rights will be observed. we can talk about the process we've all been going through since the 21st of june when it's all over. >> rose: thank you. >> thank you, sir. >> rose: john meacham, the editor of "newsweek" talking about his reporter who is there who has been detained in tehran since june 21.
back in a moment. stay with us. >> rose: general anthony zinni is here. during his career as a a marine he led central command, the force that oversees the middle east in south asia until he retired in 2000. months later he returned as president bush's envoy to the middle east but as the bush administration prepared to invade iraq, he became known as one of the most senior retired commanders to oppose the war. earlier this year, he was a top choice to serve as president obama's ambassador to iraq before christopher hill was named to the post. he recently published his latest book, it is titled "leading the charge, leadership lessons from the battlefield to the board room." we'll talk about that and must have more. i'm pleased to have general zinni back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie, good to be here. >> rose: let me go first to the middle east and come back to iraq and afghanistan. >> sure. >> rose: that the most important
thing we can do in that region is bring the israelis and palestinians together? >> definitely. i know many would argue that iran is more serious or afghanistan, but psychologically in that part of the world-- and it's been this way for decades-- that is the most significant issue. and more than anything else, it could lead to resolution to other issues and really create relationships in the region to would benefit stability and reconstruction in some areas. >> rose: how could do it that if in fact, there was some kind of agreement in the creation of a palestinian state? >> i think in many cases you take away the cause of many the of the extremists and what they base driving the civil discontent and the... driving the streets to become upset because of the plight of the palestinians. that would just sort of rip out the foundation for many of these extremist movements. i think also a relationship then that would be followed up by diplomatic relations between arabs and israelis and others would create a different
atmosphere out there, an atmosphere of cooperation not just in terms of security but economic and other areas that would benefit the region. and i think that it's been something that i've seen certainly from the arab side and the israeli side and manyor places that if you could put that behind you, you can move on in many constructive ways to do other things. and i think political cooperation, security cooperation, economic cooperation could all follow from that. >> rose: what's necessary for the united states to do? >> well, we are probably the only one that can broker any kind of deal. we obviously are the most trusted by the israelis. we have influence in the arab world. i think the arab world, muslim world, feel we have to be the brokers in this. i know that from my own experience out there. and we probably could bring international cooperation and support. i think that whatever resolution is made, you're going to have to see some investment out there, some incentives in other kinds of motivational resources
provided the... on both sides for them to make the compromises they need to make and settle system of the differences they have. and provide the incentives and the enticement to move toward resolution. we'll play a big role in that and we'll play a big role in bringing others, the europeans and maybe the more wealthy arab states into some sort of cooperative way of providing those resources. >> rose: what should we do and what should the opposition on settlements andwhat should we do to more than encourage the israelis not to enhance settlements? >> obviously you can't resolve one of the major issues-- which is borders-- without resolving the settlements issues. and going back to prime minister barack and prime minister olmert they had put solutions on the table that basically had the 1967 borders with some adjustments with some of the major settlements, some land tradeoffs and that sort of things. but that's all going to require
reshaping set settlements and maybe reshaping some, maybe allowing some to exist and expand within their own boundaries and compensation land and that sort of thing. but i think the continual expansion of settlements has always become an impediment to moving forward because on the palestinian side and in the arab world, while you're negotiating, you're seeing the land being sort of eaten away and occupied and set settled then and the argument that these settlements were only internal growth isn't proven on the ground. you see these extensions, these little trailers up on the next ridge line and obviously that has to in good faith and to move forward that's going to have to stop. >> rose: everybody assume this is, that the shape of a funl agreement is already there. >> i believe that. we've had the greatest minds in the world probably for five decades working on this. >> rose: what about jerusalem? >> jerusalem i think will have to be some sort of accommodation between east jerusalem and west
jerusalem. some sort of international open city for the religious parts and so the people could observe their religious ceremonies and things that they do in the sites there, including christians, not just jews and muslims but there's obviously a large christian community there that has what they consider pieces of jerusalem that they revere and are important to them. and it will have to be worked in a way where i think, you know, that there's assurances that will move forward, that will be... there will be security. i'm a big believer you've got to work all these issues at the same time. you can't do this sequentially. you're going to have to work security. the economic issues, the border issues, the land issues, the political issues. and i think what we've done... the mistake we've made the the past is we sort of settle for summits and agreements in principle. they don't go anywhere. i mean, one of my missions was secretary powell told me "i don't need another zinni plan." he says "put one of these plans into play." and i had to take the tenet plan
and build a work plan, an actual how we're going to do it. and that becomes much tougher than these sort of agreements in principle that we can paper the walls with. >> rose: so what's always the hangup? >> the hangup.... >> rose: trust? >> i think it's political risk. if you look at those that took risks for peace, sadat, rabin, king hussein, they suffered for it. >> rose: they all were killed. >> they were killed, king hussein was almost killed. and their own people sort of turned on them. >> a lot of attempts but he died of natural causes. >> a lot of attempts, yes. and so it's been very difficult to see if you take a risk your legacy will be rewarded for it. that people are going to appreciate on either side. in my my time there i saw with both sharon and arafat that every time they would attempt to do something or take a risk if something... you know, if sharon removed a checkpoint and then that was terrorist attack, you know, you pay an internal political price for this.
so it's going to take a lot of courage by leaders on both sides to make compromises to make agreements and then hold fast to them. >> rose: how do you factor in hamas? >> well, i mean, i think hamas clearly... the palestinians have toing if your out how to bring hamas into the fold. i'm in complete agreement with the conditions. they always have to recognize the israelis. you can't sit at the table and not recognize the person sitting across from you who has the capacity to resolve what you're negotiating. i think they have to disavow use of violence and commit to a sinn fein process. >> rose: should they do that before they talk. that's one of those big issues where you say "that's what we ought to talk about." or do you say "unless you agree to all these things, we're not going to talk to you." that's the iraraan issue, too. >> diplomatically you can get into pre-negotiations to settle the conditions. there's all sorts of ways to get to that. >> rose: back channels. >> as a matter of fact, that's a good point. i really believe there ought to be three channels in these.
there ought to be a back channel, a private channel, a public channel and what would be called a track two or unofficial channel where ideas could be floated. but there's no political risk because they can be done by retired diplomats, military people, academics. but you can plan ideas and float them and there's no sort of political commitment or political risk. what would the reaction be if we did this, if we made this compromise on settlements. or refugees. >> rose: how about the stuff that's on the ground, the checkpoints and the israeli fear always of some kind of suicide attack? how do you deal with that sort of on the ground? >> i mean, to their credit, they've taken risks before. when i was there, they removed some checkpoints. they paid a price for it. but even now they've turned over some of the cities like jeannine and nablus to palestinian security. they've removed checkpoints, more than some, considerable
numbers so they are taking a risk in testing the waters and my latest talking to the people i know on the israeli side, they think there is some positive movement on the west bank to maintain security and build the appropriate security forces in the right guarantees that it's going slowly. but so far, you know, knock on wood, the progress has been there. >> rose: what's your assessment of net you? >> well, i think it's going to be difficult for him. obviously he's form this would.... >> rose: the foreign minister is very right. >> yes, very right. and obviously coalition has had to have parties that are far to the right in order to get the majority necessary. so it's going to be very difficult because of the political makeup of that coalition government on some of these issues. it's going to be very hard and more difficult. it make take a different kind of government. but i think if there's there's movement... i mean, the other thing we haven't mentioned here is syria. and there are those that feel that that issue may be riper than the issue with the palestinians and it could be
resolved sooner. and that might provide a catalyst for more positive direction. >> rose: what is your reading of assad? what does he want? what does he need? what are his interests. >> obviously it's the golan heights issue and then obviously economic incentives. >> rose: israelis have v always been prepared to negotiate over there, haven't they? >> i think they're ready. i think they'll have to break their links with the iranians, the syrians, and there's going to have to be certain security assurances provided and the quid for that would be not only the occupied territory but also maybe some economic incentives that could be put on the table by us or europeans or combinations or even some of the arab nations. >> rose: what arab government can make the most difference? >> well, i mean, obviously the egyptians. >> rose: they have more men under arms? >> they're larger, they're obviously significant force in the arab world. saudis very much key, king abdullah.
>> rose: who had an initiative and it came from a surprising quarter, you would think the most conservative but it's put it out there. >> rose: basically said something if you go back to '67 we'll recognize... every arab country will go back to the arab government? >> and i think it's more than that. that's sort the short hand version. i've heard themem talk about '67 with adjustments so there's been a little bit of easing of the terms. and i think my experience out there, they desperately want this resolved. >> rose: "they" meaning everybody? >> by the arab world, the muslim world. and i think syria is the other one. so if you look at syria, saudi arabia, egypt, those are the's and many smaller arab nations, too, that are very active. >> rose: is the president on the right track, do you think? first with mitchell, second the cairo speech. >> yes. i do believe the cairo speech is very useful. but it has to be followed up by action. >> rose: and the action ought to be simply saying we're on the case. they've got mitchell there going from one capital to another.
>> yes. more than just envoys. i mean, having been an envoy it's got to be more substan tomorrow that. but senator mitchell is establishing offices in jerusalem. he's got people on the ground, there's permanent presence increasing in size. i think that's important, you have to work economic, political security issues, work then in detail, do it simultaneously, light a thousand fires out there. >> rose: but isn't this one place that does need an envoy? even though you could argue envoys occasionally cause some misunderstanding of accountability and the flow of power? >> i would use a different term and i don't think it's an envoy. i think it's a permanent representative, almost like an ambassador in position to work this issue. >> rose: aplgs dorr to the region? >> ambassador to the region or ambassador to the issue but there. i mean, i'd set up business.... >> rose: so if you don't use the term envoy, the important point is to have somebody living there? >> yes. and full time. an envoy sort of has a connotation of temporary nature, back and forth.
and i know from personal experience the envoy comes home, people read too much into it. and the envoy becomes the issue or the center of attention and you want to mediation. the other thing i would say, i'm not a big fan of the mediator putting the plan on the table. i mean, i've done eight-piece mediation and the parties have to come up with it. they've copped out and said, you know, the u.s. will put the next plan, the road map, the path to peace or whatever. and we sort of get coned into doing this and i've heard both sides, arab israelis and others and say only you can do it, put it on the table. i'm really convinced that for it to be a comprehensive, sustainable plan, they have to put... they have to work it out and put it on the table. we should not in the business of putting plans on the table, we should, instead, this is the business of helping themdom that solution. >> rose: one small note of history. what caused the failure of camp david? >> well, you know, i think... my own personal opinion, i don't think arafat was ready to make
that deal, if he ever was. in my talking to arafat when i was out there one on one, my sense was that he had a legacy. the legacy of a rey electrocution their that never gave in. and i think in his mind he saw that as somebody else's who followed on to make the compromise in the deal. he was very aware of what happened to sadat and rabin and even hussein and actually said that to me. and i think.... >> rose: he said, look, if i do this somebody will get me. >> his exact words to me "you won't follow my funeral like you did with them." meaning he's assassinated for having made the compromise. i think he saw his role-- i don't want to read too much into this, but i think he saw his role as i was the revolutionary, i made the case, i got us in a position where we can create a resolution but it's going to be for the next guy to work the details and maybe make the compromises. he said to me one time, he looked at me and he said "i am a general like you, i am the only undefeated arab general." that told me a lot, that expression.
>> rose: that he had enormous pride and that he did not want to be... >> he did not want to be seen as.... >> rose: acquiescing? >> and compromising and then losing what he had gained as a revolutionary. >> rose: from everything you know, and knowing that you've been out of power for a while, will l the israeli strike against iran if there is no success in getting russia to lean on iran and all the possibilities seem to be evaporating? >> i think clearly the israelis see iran as an existential threat. i think clearly they think that a there is a red line that when you hit that red line, whether it's enough fessable material or whatever it is, it's probably something shorter, weaponization that there has to be action taken in nothing else is happening. i do not believe the israelis would strike without... i wouldn't say our concurrence, necessarily, but our acknowledgment that they're going to do it. it would expose our troops in the region, expose our interests
in the region if they were to do it unilaterally, in a pre-emptory fashion that didn't advise us and, of course, if they advise us we would have to take precautions that would be very evident. we'd have to to air-to-missile defense, protect ships and everything else. i think problem with the strike is sinking through the consequences of iranian reaction. one mind that hits a tanker and you can imagine what will happen to the price of oil and economies around the world. one missile into a gulf oil field or a natural gas processing field, you can imagine what's going to happen. a missile attack on some of our troop formations in the gulf or our bases in iraq activating sleeper cells, flushing out fast patrol boats and dowels that have mines that can go into the water in the red sea and elsewhere. you can see all these reactions that are problematic in so many ways: economic impact, national security impact, it will drag us into a conflict. i think anybody that believes
that it would be a clean strike and it would be over and there would be no reaction is foolish. >> rose: so what do you think the israelis believe? >> i think they're agonizing over it. i think they really believe there has to be a red line and there has to be action taken if that red line is crossed. and i think they realize that a reaction will cause all these kinds of other problems. so i think much like us, they're thinking about what do we do when we hit that red line? how do we... we can't make assumptions about reaction. we have to protect our forces, our economic interests and other things in the region that are vital our-to--to-our well-being and survival and those things could be very expensive and launch us into a third conflict, if you will, of major proportions. it will make iraq and afghanistan look relatively small in comparison in terms of troop requirements and everything else. >>. >> rose: can we stop them from doing fit they believe the red line is crossed? >> i think that we have
opportunities now internally in iran. now i think we should be more encouraging of the rereformers. >> rose: do you believe that a coalition of forces on sanctions can be imposed that will hurt the iranian leadership, this leadership so much so that it will chang its attitude about a nuclear weapon and even its behavior towards its own? >> i don't think it's sanctions alone. i think it's part of a mix of things. i think it's constantly drawing attention to what they're doing internally to their people of hue map rights being denied, of this great persian society not fulfilling its place rightfully in the community of nations in a responsible way. these are the themes i think that could really impact internally into iran and have an effect. >> rose: i'm trying to understand because i want to understand this part. is it... which of those have we done and how do you do them? i mean, that... the people who were for the streets know the
united states sususususususususm successful. and i think they probably also understand the united states has to deal with the government in some point. >> yes. >> rose: otherwise, who's going to stop... >> i think they would like to see us much more vocal about this and much more active and energizing the international community and speaking about these things. >> so we should internationally lead the case for the reformers. >> absolutely. and i think you're seeing, too, a split in the regime. i mean rafsanjani and.... >> rose: it's clear. >> you're even beginning to see a split in the regime. and i think it's time to push this issue. you know, there are experts, the hardliners in there, about releasing pressure, a little academic freedom, freedom of the press, maybe letting some reform candidates run and sort of taking the pressure off and then coming back later and slowly pulling these things back away and you'll see them try to repeat this process in my mind, to try to ease this down. and.... >> rose: you'll see them try to crack down more or are you going to see what?
>> i think you're going to see them seemingly give into some things. they've... this is classically what they've done. and it sort of releases the pressure, eases it down. the reformers begin to believe they're making some progress and then later on they come back and pull much of this back in. >> rose: so therefore... >> so therefore i think it's time now to keep the pressure on. i would certainly not be an advocates of inciting revolution and i don't think the reformers want another violent revolution. >> rose: so what they want is for the united states to lead an international... >> yes. they want the world to be outraged and to look at what's going on in there, to be sympathetic and supportive of what they're doing and to keep that kind of pressure on this regime. >> rose: so you don't think the president did enough? >> i would have liked to have seen more. i think we sort of got ourselves trapped in making the gesture to iran that we wanted to open up a dialogue. i would not have had the president lead on this. i think, you know, the opening
may have come at a lower level. he kinddf led on this in a personal way and ahmadinejad sort of rejected this and i think it was a bit embarrassing and we had made that jets which you are and sort of got trapped into a situation where we're a let bit reluctant to push on this since we might have to deal with ahmadinejad and i think that got us in this position. i would have much rather seen us made the gesture at a lower level. and to feel it out to see if anything was there. up? where do you think the chinese and the russians would be if we took this tack? >> well, again, i think if the chinese and the russians felt that there was potential for a popular movememe inside iran, they wouldn't want to lose their relationship with an iran that might be changing and be seen, if this regime were to collapse, as supportive of a regime that was repressive and then rejected by the people. so i think if this thing gets legs you might see them less willing to support the hard line regime. >> rose: if we missed the
opportunity at the beginning it's not too late and now might be the appropriate time, as you said, rather than letting up on the pressure, increase the pressure? >> i believe that, yeah. i think that's what we should do. and i think it's the right thing to do. we're advocates of human rights and good governance and the kinds of... and this is an important society out there, it's not just sort of some sort of rogue state. you have a fairly well educated society that's always been prominent the in the region. >> rose: young. >> young. tuned into the world. >> rose: and they say pro-american in whatever sense that is. >> yi. >> rose: they obviously want to be independent and if they have nuclear technology and all those kinds of things, that's a nationalism issue not a... >> exactly. >> rose: not a geopolitical issue for them. >> exactly. we should never underestimate persian pride. and that's a strong factor, even amongst those that want to see this regime removed and see a more responsive, credible secular regime in place. >> rose: the president ought to
be out front or the secretary of state or the national security advisor and... >> all of the above. >> rose: and then they ought to be ringing up their colleagues in foreign capitals and saying "this is outrageous and we all benefit from a free iran". >> rose: >> absolutely. how can we look at someone that obviously stole this election in a very openly egregious way and then say we're going to deal with this regime? i mean, i think you're going to lose credibility on the streets of tehran and elsewhere in iran. >> rose: do you believe that we can as the president has said and others have said we cannot allow iran to have a nuclear capability? >> i believe that we... that that would be a problem for them to have the bomb. and it would require... if they were to get the bomb and we could... we did not strike we would have to alter our whole system of containment and action in the middle east which would be counterproductive. i think... you know, i agree
with senator mccain and all those that have said that that is a red line. now, what you do about it xwks problematic. there are no good answers. i mean, if you decide on a strike, all the things we talked about here, it could be the outcome and how you handle that. so the idea is not to get to that point. you have got to start trying to prevent that now. and diplomacy and pressure and sanctions and encouragement of those industry in the streets that went out and very courageously are the kinds a that can be done now. >> rose: smart power. >> smart power. >> rose: that was part one of our conversation with general zinni. part two tomorrow night. see you then. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org